Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hunters of the South Seas: lessons from filming the Bajau Laut sea nomads link

Hunters of the South Seas Season 1 Epidode 1 "The Bajau"

From The Guardian by Will Millard

Will Millard spent a month living in Indonesia while filming a documentary for BBC2, where spear fishing, hunting for sperm whales and sleeping in a stilt village is still part of daily life

I have never visited a community with a closer relationship to the sea than the Bajau Laut sea nomads of Indonesia.
Their entire lives are focused on Ibu Laut – Mother Ocean.
They are amazingly adapted physically for harvesting the sea and they live in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the richest marine environment on Earth.
The guys I stayed with were incredibly efficient at catching fish, holding their breath for minutes at a time to hunt.
In the film I describe their movement as underwater ballet – but it’s so practical.
They seem to intuitively know how the fish will move before they spear them.

 On the South coast of Lembata, the village of Lamalera is known for its whale hunting
Marine GeoGarage (NGA chart)

I spent a month living with a family in a stilt village out at sea for the BBC’s Hunters of the South Seas.
I got very close to Lobu, the eldest son.
He is a very charismatic child, with a physical disability – maybe muscular dystrophy.
The community’s reaction to Lobu deconstructed the romanticism of living with the Bajau.
They define themselves by their ability to fish – Lobu couldn’t fish or even swim, so they believed he was cursed and shunned him.
That was heartbreaking.
The irony is that overfishing may soon force the Bajau to seek alternative livelihoods.

 Commercial whaling was banned in 1986, but a remote Indonesian village is one of the few places still hunting whales using traditional methods.

The people of Lamalera island in eastern Indonesia are the only traditional whaling community left in the tropics.
They live on an infertile patch of volcano, but they just happen to have this incredible two-mile-deep oceanic trench right on their doorstep – it’s like a superhighway for sperm whales, dolphins, manta rays and sharks.
They hunt sperm whales to survive and the numbers they take doesn’t make a dent on global populations – but it was still hard for me to witness.
You never know when a whale is going to come; months can pass without a sighting.
We got lucky, if you could call it that.
We almost missed it: I just had time to grab a handicam and jump on the last boat heading out.
It was mayhem – a whale capsized one canoe and people scrambled on top of it.

 Hunters of the South Seas Season 1 Epidode 2 "The whale hunters of Lamalera"

Suddenly I realised the danger I was in.
Twice I saw an enormous whale tail rising in the air above me – the Hand of God, they call it.
The hunters had harpooned one whale and another came up to help.
Our captain tried to harpoon it – and missed.
Twelve metres and 25 tonnes of whale and he missed it!
Then a guy from another boat tore off his shirt, leapt off the bow and pierced its back.
After that the sea turned to blood as they stabbed it repeatedly.
It was terrifying, adrenaline-fuelled and, to me, tragic.
But there was still the sense of a deep respect for the animals.
It was all quite difficult to reconcile.

 Trobiand islands with the Marine GeoGarage

The Trobriand islands were much gentler.
I had heard of a group of islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea that maintain ties through “kula”, an intricate system of exchange involving shell necklaces and armbands that circulate across islands.
It is a currency, a social glue and a tool of political intrigue among the elite.
The Trobrianders have had a reputation for free love since anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski published The Sexual Life of Savages in 1929.
But it wasn’t what you might imagine.
I did keep seeing condom wrappers everywhere, but it turned out they were being used as fishing lures!
I was warned (despite insisting I had a girlfriend) that although a woman could spend the night, she must not be on my veranda by morning or we would be de facto married.
I don’t think there was much chance of that happening, though – we were referred to as “dim-dims” – pidgin for foreigner – and considered pitifully ugly.
I was amazed at the resilience of these communities in the face of great change, sticking to their traditions as the environment that supports them is degraded.
Part of me worried that we were making the last record of their lives – but then they have managed to endure this long, so who knows what may happen in the future?

Links :


Monday, April 27, 2015

US NOAA update in the Marine GeoGarage link

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to a new viewer
as Google Maps API v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to our universal mobile application users
(Marine US iPhone-iPad on the Apple Store &
Weather 4D Android -App-in- on the PlayStore)
and also to our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API

 NOAA raster chart coverage

15 charts have been updated in the Marine GeoGarage
(NOAA update April 2015, released April 13, 2015)

  • 12363 ed42 Long Island Sound Western Part
  • 13303 ed14 Approaches to Penobscot Bay
  • 13323 ed9 Bar Harbor Mount Desert Island
  • 16323 ed10 Bristol Bay-Kvichak Bay and approaches
  • 16343 ed9 Port Heiden
  • 16363 ed13 Port Moller and Herendeen Bay
  • 16450 ed3 Amchitka Island and Approaches (Metric)
  • 16501 ed8 Islands of Four Mountains
  • 16575 ed3 Dakavak Bay to Cape Unalishagvak;Alinchak Bay
  • 16597 ed10 Uganik and Uyak Bays
  • 16598 ed11 Cape Ikolik to Cape Kuliuk
  • 16705 ed21 Prince William Sound-western part
  • 16707 ed14 Prince William Sound-Valdez Arm and Port Valdez;Valdez Narrows;Valdez and Valdez Marine Terminal
  • 17370 ed12 Bay of Pillars and Rowan Bay. Chatham Strait;Washington Bay. Chatham Strait
  • 17382 ed18 Zarembo Island and approaches;Burnett Inlet. Etolin Island;Steamer Bay
Today 1026 NOAA raster charts (2236 including sub-charts) are included in the Marine GeoGarage viewer (see PDFs files)

How do you know if you need a new nautical chart?
See the changes in new chart editions.
NOAA chart dates of recent Print on Demand editions

Note : NOAA updates their nautical charts with corrections published in:
  • U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices to Mariners (LNMs),
  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Notices to Mariners (NMs), and
  • Canadian Coast Guard Notices to Mariners (CNMs)
While information provided by this Web site is intended to provide updated nautical charts, it must not be used as a substitute for the United States Coast Guard, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, or Canadian Coast Guard Notice to Mariner publications

Please visit the
NOAA's chart update service for more info or the online chart catalog


Happy 20th Anniversary, GPS! link

From GPSWorld

The Global Positioning System marks its 20th year of operation on Monday, April 27.
Below is a timeline showing important milestones in the 20 years since the constellation reached full operational capability (FOC) on April 27, 1995.
FOC was formally announced on July 17, 1995. 

 ancient Satnav transit receiver

Before the GPS, the TRANSIT system, also known as NAVSAT (for Navy Navigation Satellite System), was the first satellite navigation system to be used operationally.
The system was primarily used by the U.S. Navy to provide accurate location information to its Polaris ballistic missile submarines, and it was also used as a navigation system by the Navy's surface ships, as well as for Hydrographic survey and geodetic surveying.
Transit provided continuous navigation satellite service from 1964, initially for Polaris submarines and later for civilian use as well.

Today, several satellite navigation systems with global coverage exist :

 Comparison of systems
source : wikipedia

Planet Earth gained five new navigation satellites in late March 2015, for four satellite systems.

Launched GNSS satellites 1978 to 2012

GPS. The U.S. Air Force’s ninth GPS Block IIF satellite (GPS IIF-9) launched on March 25 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The IIF-9 rode aboard a Delta IV rocket, the workhorse of the GPS fleet for successful launches.
The satellite was declared operational on April 21.
“Many thought the Delta IV and GPS days were long gone, but the recent questions concerning reliable and proven launch vehicles have brought them back online, so to speak,” said GPS World Defense Editor Don Jewell.
“The 20-year milestone for GPS space vehicles on orbit that occurred on April 27 translates to approximately 500 orbital years just for the IIR and IIF constellations alone. The IIAs may account for that many orbital hours as well.
“This is by far the most successful launch record ever put together by any nation or government. No other space-faring nation even comes close. The U.S. Air Force and all the players should be proud of all these records and more, plus we have one more GPS asset on orbit, providing GPS signals to the world and all they enable, courtesy of the USAF.”

Galileo. Two days later, March 27, a duo of Galileo satellites was successfully launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
The seventh and eighth Galileo satellites rode aboard a Soyuz ST-B rocket. Both are in their planned orbits.

IRNSS. The next day, March 28, the fourth satellite (IRNSS-1D) of  the IRNSS satellite navigation constellation was launched onboard PSLV-C27, and reached its orbital slot April 9.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s east coast, in the 28th consecutive successful PSLV mission.

BeiDou. On March 30, China launched the first of a new generation of navigation satellites, BeiDou-3 M1, for its BeiDou constellation.
BeiDou-3 M1 is the first of 17 next-generation Beidou navigation satellites.
It will have a new navigation signal system with inter-satellite links and other tests to verify the satellite navigation system.
The new series of satellites is expected to mark an advancement in the completion of Beidou Phase III several years ahead of schedule, by as soon as 2017 rather than 2020.

GLONASS. Not making the March launch cut, GLONASS kept its hat in the orbit ring, so to speak, by issuing some far-sighted predictions.
Nicholas Testoyedov, CEO of Information Satellite Systems Reshetnev, said that the first GLONASS-K2 spacecraft will be launched into orbit in 2018.
“New code division (CDMA) signals will be emitted, so it will provide more accurate positioning for users.”
The GLONASS budget for 2015 will be cut by more than 5 billion rubles, a drop of more than 10 percent.
GLONASS is also suffering through an embezzlement scandal, related to construction of a new ground control center.

Links :


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Getting lost link

This is somewhere in East Java where I had the opportunity to get lost for a few days with the great European surfers Tiago Pires and Aritz Aranburu during their break in the WCT Tour 2014.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Underwater macro footage link

From MNN

In this exquisite "macro symphony," underwater photographer Kay Burn Lim gives viewers a glimpse of the awe-inspiring creatures that live under the waves of Indonesia's Lembeh Strait, a passage of water between Lembeh Island and the mainland city of Bitung.
The shallow strait is considered to be the premier muck diving capital of the world, and underwater photographers like Lim come from all over the world to document the wealth of creatures that lay hidden beneath these fragile sandy bottoms.

With the exception of the puffer fish (above) and the moray eel, all of the gorgeous marine critters you see in this video are no larger than two inches, and some of them are only as big as a grain of rice!
One of the most remarkable creatures featured in the video is the little leaf sheep nudibranch (Costasiella kuroshimae, pictured below), which is named for its obvious resemblance to, well, a sheep made of leafy greens!
Measuring only a few millimeters in length, these tiny photogenic sea slugs spend their days grazing on ocean algae — and perfecting their pokémon-like cuteness.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Europe's Goce gravity satellite probes Earth's mantle link

 Goce detects deep plumes of mantle material rising from more than 2,000km down

From BBC by Jonathan Amos

Europe's Goce gravity satellite has provided striking new visualisations of the Earth's deep interior.
Its gravity data has enabled the effect of variations in the density of rock to be traced up to more than 2,000km below the surface.
The maps, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, help to show how material moves up and down, driving a range of geological phenomena.
These include subduction zones, where the great tectonic slabs covering the Earth's surface dive under one another.
"Ultimately, volcanic activity and earthquakes occur because of these slow movements inside the Earth's mantle," explained Dr Isabelle Panet from the Institute for Geographic Information and Forestry, Paris, France.
"The volcanoes and earthquakes are, if you like, just the surface expression of these deep dynamics," she told BBC News.

By tracking the speed at which waves of energy from tremors propagate through rock, scientists can determine the structure of the Earth's interior - a technique known as seismic tomography.
But to convert these speed variations into densities, seismic tomography leans on quite a few assumptions, including the temperature and composition of the rock at various depths.
Determining these density differences is, however, essential to derive the relative buoyancy of material.
This might be hotter, lighter material on its way up, such as in a plume of magma; or cold dense rock on its way down, such as a swathe of oceanic crust descending at one of those subduction zones.

Goce offers some complementary information.
The satellite, which flew from March 2009 until November last year, gathered unprecedented information on the subtle changes in the pull of gravity around the Earth.
These deviations reflect differences in the mass, and by extension the density, of material at depth.
By viewing the rate of change, or gradient, in the acceleration due to gravity in three separate directions, Dr Panet and colleagues have been able to pull out a number of interesting features from the data.

 The satellite finds traces (circled red regions) of ancient subduction zones
running deep under Asia and along the Americas

These include major mantle plumes in the Pacific and south-east of Africa.
Also visible are ancient subduction zones running deep under Asia and along the Americas.
What Goce is probably seeing is the buried remnants of old plate material of Jurassic age (older than 150 million years ago) in the case of Asia, and of roughly Cretaceous age (older than about 60 million years ago) in the case of the Americas.

In addition, the satellite's gravity data contains a residual signal of the former Tethys Ocean. Subducted material is seen in the maps stretching from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas.
The Tethys Ocean is thought to have closed in the past 40-50 million years as India and Asia collided.
Dr Panet said: "The main interest of these gravity gradient data is to use them in combination with seismic tomography because the maps of seismic velocity anomalies - they do not give you the mass.
"And the mass is a very important parameter to understand the dynamics of the mantle because it creates the buoyancy forces that drive material up and down. Now, by combining the structural information from seismic tomography and the mass sensitivity of the Goce data, we can better understand the dynamics of the mantle's convective fluids."

Goce's ability to sense the uneven distribution of mass through the Earth has already allowed scientists to map the boundary globally between the Earth's crust and the mantle - the so-called Moho boundary.
The famous "discontinuity" lies some 10-70km below the surface and marks a sharp change in rock properties.
Other researchers are investigating old plate movements by linking gravity signals on different continents, such as on Africa and South America, to show how they were once joined together.
"What we are seeing is that Goce data enable us to sense features from really quite shallow regions in the crust, down to very deep in the mantle," commented Dr Rune Floberghagen, the European Space Agency's mission manager for Goce.

 The circled blue region reflects remnants of the old Tethys Ocean

 Note : The Eotvos is a unit for the rate of variation of the gravitational acceleration.

Links :


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oceans are world's seventh largest economy worth $24tn, says WWF report link

‘The oceans are in a bad state that is rapidly getting worse.
Fisheries are starting to collapse, there are record levels of pollution, such as plastic pollution, and there is climate change.’
Photograph: David Fleetham/

From The Guardian by Oliver Milman

Vast economic worth of world’s oceans includes fishing, tourism and shipping but is declining due to pollution, climate change and overfishing

The monetary value of the world’s oceans has been estimated at US$24tn in a new report that warns that overfishing, pollution and climate change are putting an unprecedented strain upon marine ecosystems.
The report, commissioned by WWF, states the asset value of oceans is $24tn and values the annual “goods and services” it provides, such as food, at $2.5tn.
This economic clout would make the oceans the seventh largest economy in the world although the report’s authors, which include the Boston Consulting Group, say this is an underestimate as it does not factor in things such as oil, wind power and intangibles, such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation.
The economic value is largely comprised of fisheries, tourism, shipping lanes and the coastal protection provided by corals and mangroves.

However, the oceans are facing mounting pressures.
They soak up around half of the carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activity, a process that is warming the water and increasing the acidification of the ocean.
The report warns that nearly two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are “fully exploited” with most of the rest overexploited.
The biological diversity of the oceans slumped by 39% between 1970 and 2010, while half of the world’s corals and nearly a third of its seagrasses have disappeared in this time.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, lead author of the report and director of the Australia-based Global Change Institute, said it was important that the business community understood the value of the oceans so that a strategy could be devised to reverse its decline.
“If you don’t look after an asset like the ocean it starts to degrade so it’s important we start to solve these problems now on an international basis,” he said.
“The oceans are in a bad state that is rapidly getting worse. Fisheries are starting to collapse, there are record levels of pollution, such as plastic pollution, and there is climate change.”
Hoegh-Guldberg said the “shocking” rate of change in the world’s oceans was illustrated in the latest report by the UN’s climate science panel, which stated that changes in the ocean’s chemistry due to an increase in CO2 emissions was faster than at any point in the past 65m years.
Warming temperatures can make life challenging for some marine species, while the acidification of the ocean hampers the ability of creatures such as corals and molluscs to form their shells and skeletons.

“The changes we are making will take 10,000 years at least to turnaround, so we don’t want to go down this pathway,” Hoegh-Guldberg said.
“This generation of humans is defining the future of 300 generations of humans. We are conducting these experiments with our world despite the consequences for people.”
Hoegh-Guldberg said that nations should do more to manage localised issues such as pollution and overfishing to help oceans deal with climate change.
“If you protect marine areas and regulate fishing, you can help corals survive the impact of climate change,” he said.
“If we solve these local problems we can buy some time while we deal with the global climate issue. But let’s not pretend here – if we don’t get off the current CO2-rich pathway we’re on now, all the attempts to control local factors won’t work. Coral reefs will become a distant memory and the ability to feed people will be severely degraded.”
The report calls for eight key steps to revive the health of the oceans, including a stronger focus in UN agreements on oceans, deep cuts to emissions, at least 30% of marine areas to be protected by 2030 and greater action to tackle illegal fishing.

Links :